Practice Intelligence Australia

29 January 2015 - 5.8% Predicts Robert Walters

Increased hiring for legal professionals in 2015 is predicted according to the 2015 Global Salary Survey from specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

The survey covers a range of professions and is based on real placements made by Robert Walters consultants. It found growth in corporate transactions, demand for in-house counsel at the major banks due to regulatory reform, and the commencement of major construction projects will all lead to increased hiring in 2015.

Salary freezes were largely lifted in 2014. In 2015, permanent salaries are expected to grow year-on-year on average by 5.8%.

Robert Walters Legal Director, Andrew Hanson, said:

“Hiring managers are likely to struggle to secure lawyers within their budgeted salary bandings. After years of salary freezes, more associates are now driven by remuneration, and companies will need to make competitive offers if they want to secure top talent, possibly including sign-on and retention bonuses. Financial services, construction and corporate M&A associates will probably be the most difficult to source, while construction and corporate candidates, although not so scarce, may have already moved practice or been well compensated for staying.”

The Robert Walters Global Salary Survey is the most comprehensive of its kind and is based on the analysis of permanent, interim and contract placements covering all 24 countries in which Robert Walters operates. The sixteenth edition offers an overview of salaries and recruitment trends from 2014, as well as those expected in 2015.

Video commentary below discussing all professions 

 

 

27 January 2015 - Does the ASX Kill Professional Services Firms?

 

21 January 2015 - Civic Legal Emerges from ILH Ashes

 

21 January 2015 - We Ask Lift Legal About the Law Firm that Increased File Openings by 61%

 

15 January 2015 - Demand for Employed Solicitors Rising From the Depths

The number of job vacancy advertisements for solicitors rose in 2014 from the depths of 2013. The increased demand for employed lawyers must be coming from smaller firms. At the end of last year The Australian published statistics showing that through calendar 2014 the number of non-partner fee earners in 39 large firms decreased by 4.9%. Growth in non-partner fee earner numbers occurred in only about 30% of those firms.

The graphs below show the number of internet job advertisements.

Above: Internet Job Vacancy Index. Star symbol tags November of each year 

12 January 2015 - In-House Lawyering is Booming - Right?

 

5 January 2015 - Sold in Under 7 days: Law Central and Capricorn Partners

KordaMentha was appointed Administrator of ILH Group at 5.15pm on 17 December 2014. By the afternoon of 24 December 2014 the Administrator had a binding sale of shares in Law Central and Capricorn Investment Partners (Capricorn).

Left within the group is the law firm business, including Rockwell Olivier, for which the unpaid creditors will be holding out hope.

ILH bank debt - believed to be courtesy of St George Bank - was around $14 million as per ILH's 2014 financial year annual report. The amount owed to other creditors plus employee entitlements is likely to be around another few million dollars.

Capricorn is a financial planning business that found its way into ILH in September 2013. The owners of Capricorn received in the order of $4.5 million cash as well as now worthless ILH shares and promises of performance payments. The identity of the purchasers of Law Central and Capricorn have not been disclosed. The most likely scenario is that the previous owners of Capricorn gave back the cash they received and ran for the exit.

It is no surprise that Law Central sold so quickly. It is an internet-based legal documents business which had higher margins than the law firm business. The problem for the ILH creditors is that Law Central is a small business with an estimated turnover of $1m to $2m (a Legal Practice Intelligence guesstimate based on historical ASX disclosures).

It is hard to see how St George Bank and the other creditors will not be taking a substantial loss. They will no doubt be pondering the lessons learned of lending to a law firm that was a failure for investors from day one to the very end.


19 December 2014 - ILH Group Enters Voluntary Administration

Click image below to visit ILH Group website for more information




 

18 December 2014 - Indicators Pointing to a Busier 2015 for Family Lawyers

Click image below to view full article

 

15 December 2014 - AGS to consolidate within the Attorney-General’s Department

Statement by AGS CEO:

The Government has decided that AGS will be consolidated within the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) and no longer operate as a government business enterprise. AGD and AGS are working closely with a view to the consolidation occurring on 1 July 2015.

This decision will not impact on the service AGS provides to its clients. AGS will continue to have its own independent functional identity within AGD. The expertise and experience of our lawyers will continue to be available to serve you with the professionalism you have come to expect.

We value your continued support in this interim period and will be continuing to operate without changes to our personnel or service delivery.

Ian Govey, Chief Executive Officer

 

15 December 2014 - ILH Shares in Voluntary Suspension During New Negotiations with Bank

ILH is the listed entity of law firm Rockwell Olivier

At the time of the trading halt on the ASX last week, ILH shares were at a historical low point of 1.9 cents per share. The original shares were issued in August 2007 at 50 cents per share.

During 2013 the company acquired a financial planning business, paying for it with a combination of ILH shares (9 cents per share) as well as $4.51 million in cash. During financial year 2014 the legal services business was the main contributor to a heavy financial loss for the year.

By 30 June 2014 ILH’s bank debt was up to $14.4 million. This amount represented roughly 50% of the 2013/14 annual revenue of the business.

A new financing / repayment arrangement with the bank was announced in September 2014. Now the company has obtained agreement by the bank to defer a $250K payment that was due in December. ILH expects to make a further announcement by the end of this week.

In the first week of December 2014 the long term managing director of ILH resigned and the company appointed a corporate advisory firm to assist with strategic planning.



14 December 2014 - Australian Government Solicitor to Close

The news was leaked over the weekend:

The Weekend Australian can ­reveal the 175 agencies to be cut ­include the Australian Government Solicitor as well as obscure committees such as a “governance board” on computer systems and a “partnership group” on student services. While the AGS had been seen as a potential asset sale, the government will instead close it down and transfer some of its staff to the Attorney-General’s Department in order to scale back overall spending.

Legal Practice Intelligence commentary from 19 November 2014



10 December 2014 - Volume of Property Sales in 2015

 

8 December 2014 - Corrs disrupts its own BigLaw business model with a contract lawyer service

 

4 December 2014 - Lawson Smith Lawyers Join HWL Ebsworth

 

4 December 2014 - Cridlands MB will Join HWL Ebsworth to Form the Firm's new Darwin and Alice Springs offices

 

 

3 December 2014 - Productivity Commission Recommends Contingency Fees and Limited Opening of Family Law to Non-Lawyers

 

 

1 December 2014 - Exemplary Marketing of a Criminal Law Practice


 

28 November 2014 - In a Globalised World, Local GCs are Losing the Autonomy to Choose Law Firms

 

26 November 2014 - E-Conveyancing: First Full Transfer, Lodgment and Financial Settlement

 

25 November 2014 - Justice Connect moves into Fair Work support for unrepresented litigants

 

 

19 November 2014 - Closing Australian Government Solicitor will not help Federal Government Fiscal Deficit



18 November 2014 - S & G Looks to Expand in Canada

 

14 November 2014 - Galilee Solicitors Wins Bragging Rights for First NSW E-Caveat

 

13 November 2014 - Top 20 Private Law Firms Partnering with Legal Aid NSW

 

10 November 2014 - E-Conveyancing Sceptics Proved Wrong Today



click above image to read more

 

7 November 2014 - Macquarie Secures 25% of PEXA Shares

According to recent AFR reporting, Macquarie Capital has become a 25% shareholder of PEXA which is the maximum ownership limit for any single shareholder.

Western Australia Government’s Landgate owns 16%. Other shareholders include the four major banks, Link Market Services (Pacific Equity Partners), Paul Little (Little Group) and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

$50-$60 million of the capital raised has gone into building the PEXA platform.

GlobalX Legal Solutions CEO Peter Maloney said the company was looking forward to its customers being able to fully access the Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) in NSW from November 10.

Mr Maloney says that the Brisbane based company is Australia’s largest property settlement provider to the practitioner market.

"We have been preparing and investing significantly in our technology, people and industry partnerships, to ensure we have a competitive advantage in delivering PEXA to all our clients and solutions partners,” Mr Maloney said.

“We are thrilled to be able to deliver PEXA to GlobalX’s practitioners who currently utilise the company’s online search, conveyancing and practice management software solutions.

“We are very pleased to have agreements in place to deliver access to PEXA to the broader practitioner market via our strategic partners and their software solutions.”

Read more

 

6 November 2014 - Blue Rock Law Joins M+K Lawyers

Headed by Principals George Haros and Alex Ninis, Blue Rock Law focuses on IT, workplace relations, property, litigation and commercial law.

“George and Alex have done a wonderful job in a tough market to grow their firm since founding it only five years ago,” comments Damian Paul, National M+K Managing Director. “Their focus on mid-market businesses aligns perfectly with ours. This union creates enormous opportunity to introduce, on the one hand, their clients to the wider skill sets within M+K and, on the other, their specialist skill sets to the M+K client base.”

A team of eight lawyers and three support staff [based in Melbourne] will accompany George and Alex, with two team members based in Perth.

“Blue Rock Law is excited by this opportunity,” says Alex Ninis. “We feel there is a real synergy between M+K and Blue Rock Law of a vision to use our industry knowledge to truly understand our client’s business, and then to provide them with a practical and commercial legal service.

“As Blue Rock Law strives to keep ahead of the curve and meet the ever changing need of our clients, teaming up with M+K will allow for greater operating efficiency, solidify our presence nationally, and deliver all-round better value for our clients,” concludes George Haros. 

M+K Lawyers has 350 staff with offices in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Perth.

 

6 November 2014 - Tim's Story

 

 

  ... and "Besties" from Shine Lawyers

 

3 November 2014 - Kemp Strang Opens Office in Brisbane

Commercial law firm Kemp Strang today opened the doors to its Brisbane office. It comes only nine months after announcing it would open a Melbourne office and the firm now has offices across the eastern seaboard in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Kemp Strang provides high quality legal services to clients across a wide range of industries with particular strengths in banking & finance, dispute resolution & insolvency and corporate advisory.

The Brisbane office is headed by partners Glen Williams and Paul Wong, both from Kemp Strang’s former Brisbane affiliate law firm, Thynne & Macartney.

Said Kemp Strang managing partner, Michael Joseph: “This is the next step in our business strategy of providing a national service to our clients under the Kemp Strang banner.”

Mr Williams is an insolvency specialist and has over 20 years’ experience providing expert services in dispute resolution to banks, financial institutions and commercial enterprises. Mr Wong has 15 years’ experience in banking and finance specialising in transactional banking and finance. He also acts for Banks and insolvency practitioners in the realisation of assets. They are supported by a highly experienced team of lawyers and paralegals.

 

30 October 2014 - Hunt & Hunt Lawyers and Nicholsons Solicitors Announce Affiliation

From 1 November 2014, the national Hunt & Hunt Legal Group will add Brisbane-based Nicholsons Solicitors into its national network, extending the range of services to clients across practice and geographical boundaries.

Hunt & Hunt’s General Manager, Steve Sampson says Nicholsons are a natural fit with Hunt & Hunt's way of doing business. They have unique local knowledge and significant experience in the Queensland market.

Read more

 

30 October 2014 - Litigation Funding Delivers $38m in Three Months to Bentham IMF


click image to read article (website screenshot)

28 October 2014 - Clyde & Co Opens in Brisbane


 

27 October 2014 - Migration Advice Market Tightens

The increase in the number of registered migrations agents is in contrast to an almost flat migration program.

At 30 June 2014 there were 5,212 registered migration agents. This represents an increase of 11.3% or 528 Agents over the past two years.

In the same period, migration has increased by around 2.7%. The migration program for the current year is budgeted to be at the same level as last year.

The number of Agents with legal practising certificates at 30 June 2014 was 1,673 being 32.1% of all Agents. This percentage has been decreasing slightly. An increasing proportion of new Agents are non-lawyers.

62% of all Agents have been in the Migration Advice Industry for six years or less. [sources: Department of Immigration; MARA statistics]


Left Axis: Australian Migration Program. Right Axis: Percentage being Skill Program as opposed to Family

 

23 October 2014 - Shine Lawyers Acquires Sciaccas PI and Family Law Practices


website screenshot

Shine Corporate Ltd (Shine) has acquired Sciaccas Lawyers Pty Ltd and Sciaccas Family Lawyers Pty Ltd. Initial consideration will be $8.75 million with deferred consideration subject to earn-outs linked to ongoing and increased financial performance of the acquired entities.

Sciaccas' founder, Con Sciacca, former federal government minister, has agreed to enter into an employment contract with Shine as a condition of the acquisition and will continue in the business following completion.

Based on initial consideration of $8.75 million, this equates to 4 to 5 times of the estimated FY15 EBITDA, with similar multiples maintained on the payment of deferred consideration for growth in earnings through the earn-out period. The acquisition will be funded from Shine's existing cash and debt facilities and is expected to be earnings per share accretive in FY2015. The acquisition is expected to be fully completed by the end of October 2014, but will contribute to Shine's earnings from 1 July 2014, being the date the share transfer will take effect.

Shine Managing Director, Simon Morrison said, "this acquisition is an excellent opportunity to leverage Sciaccas' excellent and long standing relationships with both key clients and industry groups alike. This acquisition is consistent with our 'inch wide, mile deep' focus on damages based plaintiff litigation, with Sciaccas complementing Shine's existing personal injury businesses and providing access to additional channels to market".

 

22 October 2014 - Some Positive News from ILH Group

ILH Group (holding company of law firm Rockwell Olivier) has announced that its first quarter (2014/15) has been cash flow positive. Operating Revenue for the quarter was $8.078 million with EBITDA of $868,000.

In 2013/14 the company produced a loss. The EBITDA announced today represents a margin of 10.7% on Operating Revenue. For the full year 2012/13 EBITDA was around 7.6%.

In contrast, Slater & Gordon is planning to achieve an EBITDA margin of between 23%-24% in 2014/15.

The interest bill for ILH Group has roughly doubled since 2012/13 and was about $1.1 million in 2013/14. The Western Australia legal practice continues to face challenges with the reported loss of a key workplace relations lawyer to a rival WA firm.

The ILH share price is currently near its all time low of under 3 cents per share.

 

22 October 2014 - Demand for Employed Solicitors on the Rise

Figures released today by the Department of Employment show a rise of 14% for solicitor employment advertisement numbers compared to 12 months ago (Internet Vacancy Index).

The increase for all jobs across the economy is 11.9%.

The current number of solicitor job advertisements is still 18% below the level of September 2012.

Seek has been the number one online jobs board in Australia but is facing a major new competitor. What used to be mycareer.com.au has now become Adzuna.com.au. Adzuna also searches and aggregates job advertisements.

As at today, Seek has 2,552 job advertisements for lawyers or solicitors and Adzuna has 2,143.  A significant proportion of employers are likely to be posting the same jobs at multiple sites simultaneously. The advertised pricing for Adzuna is less than one quarter of Seek’s pricing.

 

 

20 October 2014 - Truman Hoyle to Become Part of Bird & Bird

Bird & Bird is an international firm with 1,100 lawyers in 26 offices.
 
Read more

 

 

20 October 2014 - E-Conveyancing Prices Released

The use of the e-conveyancing platform (PEXA) will be on a pay-per-transaction basis. There are no membership or subscription fees. Click the price list below to view an example of the costing of a transaction as well as pricing FAQs.

 

16 October 2014 - LawCorner Launches: Connecting Prospective Clients with Lawyers


 

13 October 2014 - More Self-Help Videos for Self-Represented Court Users

Read background report here

 

 

 

 

11 October 2014 - Divorce Hotel May Come to Australia

 

 

9 October 2014 - Victoria Conveyancing Activity Sinks

In May, June and July Victoria property sales volumes were going through the roof.

Despite Victoria having a population that is around 30% less than NSW, the volume of Victoria's property transfers in July 2014 was higher than in NSW – albeit by a small margin.

The buoyant sales activity came to an abrupt halt in August. Statistics show that property transfers were 4% lower in August 2014 than August 2013.

June and July 2014 were both 21% higher than the equivalent months of 2013. August 2014 was 4% lower than August 2013.

Why the sharp turnaround? According to RP Data’s index, Melbourne home values declined by 0.84% over September 2014. We have consistently observed that sales volumes and prices move in the same direction.

NSW property transfers are up by 8% this year for August and September combined compared to the equivalent months of 2013. Queensland is up 11% for the eight weeks to 20 September 2014 compared to the equivalent period of 2013. Home values in Sydney and Brisbane continued to increase over September 2014.


7 October 2014 - Will Sparke Helmore's Partnership Agree to a Public Listing?

According to a report in The Australian, the Partnership of Sparke Helmore is considering listing the firm on the ASX.

This report coincides with another major professional services business (Crowe Horwath) likely to make an exit from the ASX as it is in the process of being sold to a non-listed entity.

It is unlikely that anyone will want to buy Sparke Helmore shares if its share price performance follows the same pattern as the shares of Crowe Horwath, ILH Group or some of the professional services firms operating in the recruitment sector.

The timing may well be right for a high-end professional services business to list, having learned the lessons from those who went before them.

 

7 October 2014 - The System Disrupting Itself: Disruptive Innovation in the Legal Services Market

 

3 October 2014 - 850 Delegates to Attend Family Law Conference

 

30 September 2014 - Taking parental leave is a career ‘kiss of death’ for women in law firms

 

30 September 2014 - Donaldson Walsh Lawyers and Fox Tucker to Form DW Fox Tucker

From 1 October 2014 the two South Australian firms will join and become DW Fox Tucker.

Donaldson Walsh Lawyers stated:

“We’ll be large enough, with a total team of just over 80 people, to handle a higher volume of work and multiple larger projects, yet remain small enough to deliver personal service and value-for-money for each and every client.

“Our only tinge of sadness about the move is that our long-term home at Kings Chambers can’t quite fit the whole DW Fox Tucker team in. So we’ll be moving just up the road to 100 King William Street to share Fox Tucker’s current offices.” 

Read more at Adelaide Now where it refers to "Adelaide's shrinking legal services market" as well as the redundancies that will follow from the merger.

 

24 September 2014 - Law Central to provide a suite of documents for use by the SME customers of a leading Australian bank


website screenshot

 

22 September 2014 - Victoria Legal Aid Has Sacrificed Private Practitioner Services to Boost Balance Sheet

 

19 September 2014 - Recognition for Legal Industry Innovators

 

17 September 2014 - Slater & Gordon Expands in Western Sydney with Acquitisition

 

15 September 2014 - How Your Next Job Will Find You

About 12 months ago LinkedIn reached 5 million Australian members. When it reaches 6 million, this will be almost half the Australian workforce, including the employed and unemployed.

LinkedIn offers a job posting service. Over the last 12 months, the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn for lawyers in Australia increased four-fold. Although this sound like impressive growth, it is still less than 300 job postings at present. By comparison, Seek has more than 2,000 job advertisements for lawyers.

In the video presentation below, the CEO of LinkedIn restates one of the goals of the company: to be a resource for finding candidates who are not actively looking for a job but might consider an opportunity. Called passive candidates, this group has been estimated to be 80-90% of the workforce.

According to LinkedIn's CEO, it is not just about LinkedIn members finding the right jobs. It is increasingly going to be about the right jobs finding members.


watch video on YouTube

 

 

10 September 2014 - Employment Demand Continues to Increase

Job vacancy statistics can be viewed as an indicator of the demand for employees. Since the beginning of 2011 the trend has been unmistakably downward. This culminated in a jobs shakeout, especially in larger law firms, during 2012/13.

The demand for employed solicitors is currently on the rise. However it has a long way to go to recover to levels of only four years ago.




Charts: Internet job vacancies using data from from Australian Government Department of Employment

 

5 September 2014 - Stress on Victorian families likely to escalate if wills laws proceed

 

4 September 2014 - Law Council welcomes Law Society of WA recommendation to adopt Legal Profession Uniform Law

 

3 September 2014 - Assessing the Impact of the Increasing Number of Solicitors



Source: Law Society of NSW statistics

The latest statistics from the Law Society of NSW show that the number of solicitors has increased by 20% over the past five years. The increase over the past year, at 4%, has been in line with the five year trend.

How can a 20% increase in the number of solicitors be interpreted?

The population of Australia increased by 8% between December 2008 and December 2013. However, a better indicator is the change in the size of the economy. Real GDP increased by 14% over the five years to March 2014. Some areas of practice have grown by more than that rate of growth. One example is property/conveyancing over the past twelve months.

The number of suburban solicitors has been growing at more than twice the rate of city solicitors. Other notable trends are the increase in corporate in-house numbers and the increase in the number of sole practitioner firms.

 

 

1 September 2014 - 31% Deterioration in Legal Services Fee Income for ILH Group – Rockwell Olivier

Rockwell Olivier is the law firm core business of ASX listed ILH Group. In the six months to June 2014, Legal Services Fee Income was 31% lower than the same period last year (2H FY13). The severity of the result has been attributed to the exit of key fee-earning lawyers from the Perth practice.

For the whole year 2013/14, the decline in revenue (from ordinary activities) was 13% to $27.5 million. ILH Group reported a loss of $6.6m before tax (from continuing operations).

During 2013/14 ILH Group diversified into financial services (wealth management). In the year, revenue from this business represented 11.7% of the company’s total annual revenue.

The combination of the year's financial loss and funds used for acquisitions has left ILH with an increase of $11 million in total liabilities. At 30 June 2014, total liabilities were $25.6 million which represented 93% of the value of fee revenue for the year. Tangible assets of the group were $17 million of which $2.78 million was an investment in an associate that produced a return of $124,289 during the year.

 

 

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